Rex Tillerson Now Says North Korea Must Earn Its Way to Negotiations

A few days after offering to talk to North Korea without precondition, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson changed his mind and said that Pyongyang must stop its nuclear threats and earn its way to negotiations. He also urged Russia and China to do more to curtail the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

“A sustained cessation of North Korea’s threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin,” Tillerson said at a United Nations Security Council meeting.

Previously, he said that he was open to talking to North Korea about anything, while the White House said that talks would be pointless as long as Pyongyang continued to threaten its neighbors and the U.S. But, on Friday, Tillerson reiterated President Donald Trump’s position.

Tillerson’s message, according to The New York Times, appears to place the U.S. and North Korea at a dangerous standoff once more.

In the meantime, the North Korean ambassador to the UN, Ja Song-nam, criticized the Council for acting as a tool of the United States and added that their nuclear weapons program was defensive and needed to ward off a U.S. invasion to oust the regime, The Washington Post informs.

Tillerson also questioned China’s commitment to solving the issue “as Chinese oil flows to North Korean refineries” and scolded Russia for employing North Korean workers in “slave-like” conditions.

“Continuing to allow North Korean laborers to toil in slave-like conditions inside Russia in exchange for wages used to fund nuclear weapons programs calls into question Russia’s dedication as a partner for peace,” Tillerson said.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily A. Nebenzia rebuffed his criticism of the labor imports and questioned the sincerity of the U.S. in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Tillerson said the United States would not accept preconditions imposed by others, like the proposal by Russia and China to freeze nuclear tests in exchange for a freeze on the American military exercises on the Korean Peninsula and added that Washington would not ease sanctions before any possible talks.

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